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The Four Pillars of Parenting – The Foundation of All Great Parents
So you’re probably wondering what I mean by pillars. A pole is a vital part of a structure—or, in our case, a person—that provides support and stability. Missing or weak pillars cause you to become unstable and eventually crash.
There are pillars in every area of life that will help you succeed if you pay attention to them and work hard to strengthen and balance each one.
Let me give you some examples:
Think back to when you were in school. What did the best students always have in common? They usually sat in the front row of the class, spent hours after school in the library and prepared for tests the week before.
They weren’t trying to just “get by”. Instead, they chose to be the best students, always the hardest working and never taking the easy way out.
What about the pillars of sports? You must train and become extremely skilled physically, emotionally and mentally. If an athlete has great physical skills but withers under the strain, he will never be great at his sport.
What makes Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan so good? It’s not just about their physical talents. Instead, it’s how they handle themselves mentally and emotionally in difficult situations. They trained for years because they decided to be the best athletes, always worked their hardest and never took the easy way out.
Pillars of weight loss? Anyone who has tried a special diet knows that it doesn’t work in the long run – no matter how hard all those “diet and fitness experts” would have you believe otherwise. To permanently lose weight, you need to eat right, do cardiovascular and strength exercises.
The absence of any of them will lead to defeat. You can exercise 8 hours a day, but if you eat more calories than you burn, you won’t lose weight. So you have to decide once and for all that you will get and stay healthy, work hard and never take the easy way out.
Are you starting to see a pattern? To be great at something, you must:
o Decide what you want to be great at
o Give yourself time and effort
o Never cut corners or look for an easy way out
What does this have to do with education?
Raising children takes as much work as anything else, and sometimes more. You have to work as hard as the best golfer or the smartest student. You can’t expect it to be easy. You must constantly study and spend time strengthening and balancing the Four Pillars of Nurturing. Only then will you understand what great parenting is.
So did I drive it into the ground enough? Did I make it clear that becoming great takes time and effort? That it will not be easy?
Let me explain each of the four pillars so you know exactly what you need to do. All of these are equally important, and only when you achieve balance in all four areas will you realize your potential, because too much reliance on one will lead to your downfall.
Pillar 1: Avoid the pattern
This pillar, also known as your “Family of Origin,” includes your family history, the family traditions you want to continue (or the ones you don’t want), and most importantly, how your parents raised you.
In every aspect of life, you can only do what you know. You can’t be expected to do something you’ve never learned, and that can be very dangerous if you had parents who were negative, didn’t love you, or abandoned you. If most of what they taught you was negative, most of what you teach your children will be negative as well – unless you change.
But don’t be too hard on your parents, because chances are their parents treated them the same way their parents’ parents treated them, etc. This is a negative parenting pattern that you must prevent from continuing. You don’t want your children to have the same negative experience you did.
Divorce, alcoholism, and various forms of abuse are extreme examples of negative patterns that are passed down from generation to generation. Yours may not be so extreme. Instead, it may have been a lack of compassion, affection, or love. Maybe your parents always expected too much from you and nothing you did was ever good enough. Whatever it is – if it’s offensive or negative – it needs to stop.
Most of the family problems I deal with every day are not problems with children. Instead, parents have unmet needs from their past that they project onto their children either consciously (they know they’re doing it) or unconsciously (they don’t realize they’re doing it). So, you have to consider how your parents raised you, because once you come to terms with your past, you can become emotionally available to your children.
Most parents I’ve come across miss it altogether. why Because these can be difficult and sometimes very painful questions. If your parents hurt you physically or emotionally, if they divorced when you were young, or if you have different beliefs than them, it can be very difficult for you to go back and face it. This is normal, but it can also be very dangerous. So you must learn to accept your past and stop negative parenting patterns before they harm your children.
Pillar 2: Conquer the culture
Times continue to change quickly and you need to understand what you are facing as a parent. There are more distractions, temptations, and influences now than there were when you were a child, and you need to be aware of them.
Here are some simple questions for you about the culture your children are currently living in to see how “in the know” you really are. (See the bottom of this section for answers.)
1. Who is a regular teenager by day and a pop star by night?
2. What do you do if someone “pokes” you?
3. Who is Troy Bolton?
4. Who is Tom? Are you friends with him?
So how did you do? Did you get all or most of them right? We hope you did, because these are questions you should know the answer to if your children are old enough to go to school, have access to a TV or a computer. Because I guarantee that even if you don’t know these answers, they do.
Children have a very strong influence on modern culture. Sex, drugs, and violence are everywhere—on the Internet, on television, in movies, and in video games—and they all have an incredible effect on young minds.
Do you allow your children to use the Internet unsupervised? When should they be allowed to watch movies rated PG-13 or R? Which TV channels are acceptable, and which should be controlled or banned? Here are some of the issues you need to address.
There will always be new influences, so you need to keep up with the culture to be ready.
1. Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana 2. You are on Facebook. (What is Facebook? You need more help than I thought.) 3. He’s the star of Disney’s High School Musical. 4. Tom is the co-founder of Myspace.com and currently has 225,916,857 online friends – yes, that’s over 225 million people and counting.
Pillar 3: Teach the tools
It’s something you’re always looking for – something you can use to solve your parenting problems. These tools are important and you need to learn as much as you can to be prepared for any situation you may encounter. But more importantly, you need to learn WHEN and HOW to use these tools properly, because good parenting tools are worthless if not used properly.
For example, different actions work in different situations. Time-outs may work for a particular child in a particular situation, but not for other children or situations. Taking away privileges may be great for one child, but not for another. And how long do you take them? Day? Week? All of these actions have been shown to work when used correctly.
So you need to learn WHEN to use WHAT to get the best response from your child. You need a whole bag of parenting techniques. You can’t just parent a pony. Sometimes you need to know whether to trick or treat your kids. Too much? Yeah, that’s what I thought, but you get my point.
These tools should be centered around three key areas: empowerment, discipline and punishment. (Discipline and punishment are NOT the same thing)
Empowerment: Tools for Raising Kids Who Can Take Care of Themselves – Physically, Spiritually, Emotionally, Mentally, Sexually, Economically, Socially, and Any Other Word That Ends in -ally.
Discipline: Tools to reinforce good behavior, stop bad behavior, and teach your child how to be honest and respectful.
Punishment: This is part of discipline, but it’s an area that can be extremely confusing. Therefore, more details about effective punishment methods used to stop bad behavior are important. Note the word “effective” because many of the punishment methods you can use may not be effective and may even reinforce bad behavior.
Pillar 4: Develop character
You owe it to your children and society in general to raise children with good character and values. You have to raise them to be positive, happy and caring. The world is filled with so much anger, hate, and negativity right now that it will be hard, but you have to do it. Because, no matter how formulaic it sounds, we need to make the world a better place – one generation at a time.
So how do you do it? You must set a good example and teach your children how to act properly. Some examples:
o Teach your boys to respect girls.
o Teach your girls to value their bodies.
o Volunteering time and money for the less fortunate.
o Grow spiritually or religiously.
Creating a child with character is now more important than ever. The good news is that if you lead, they will follow.
Why aren’t you a great parent?
“I would be better, but I just don’t have time.”
“I would learn everything, but I don’t have the money to buy all those books.”
“I would try harder, but my kids still won’t listen to me.”
You can come up with any excuse you want, but the only reason you’re not the parent you’ve always wanted to be is because:
You chose not to be.
It’s that simple. It doesn’t matter what the people around you are doing or the situation you’re in – you can be a great parent if you want to. This is completely up to you.
You must commit to building and balancing the Four Pillars of Parenting so that you can grow as a parent. Don’t look for new “revolutionary” ideas, because without a solid support around you, an “amazing” new tool or technique will never have long-term success.
They may not be as fancy or interesting as some ideas, but they work. You should never feel “lost” as a parent. You should always have a choice and these pillars give you that.
So are you ready?
It’s time to make a change – a real, long-term change in your parenting. You need to decide right now that you will never look for an easy way out again and dedicate yourself to working hard, learning and improving the “Four Pillars of Nurturing.”
You have to be 100% committed because it will take time and effort. It won’t be easy, but nothing is easy. It’s not a quick fix to your problems, but it’s the only way to make lasting changes.
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